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Russia Triumphant over Host Canada

Published: May 20, 2008 (Issue # 1374)


Getting a Canadian to swallow his or her pride after a monumental world hockey championship loss on home soil and to look at the bigger picture is a tough task indeed. Let this Canadian living in St. Petersburg then not wallow in misery after a game fairly played to write on the broader theme of sports and society. Forgive me if I wax a bit poetic in the shadow of defeat.

Canada and Russia have over the years shared a great hockey legacy with both a fierce rivalry and sense of sportsmanship that highlights the positive role sport can play in international relations. When Russians think of Canada one of the first things they speak of is hockey. There is a shared understanding through hockey among our two northern nations with legends and heroes that youngsters have looked up to as role models. An IIHF Centennial All-Star Team was named this year with one Canadian, Wayne Gretzky (the great one), and four Russians, Sergei Makarov, Valery Kharlamov, Vladislav Tretyak and Vyacheslav Fetisov.

Though sporting events sometimes reach such a fevered pitch that hooligans react with violence outside of the stadiums and arenas, one message is that competition does not have to be played in a spirit of conflict, but with a sense of mutual respect for the game and for the opponent. It is the triumphalism of world power that obscures victory in athletic competitions after the winners and losers are awarded their just due. Let us hope the new-found nationalism in Russia after celebrations on the streets of Russia following Zenit St. Petersburgs and now the national hockey teams victory, does not extend to the realm of seeking a return to super-power world-status in an unhealthy way. In sports as in society, sooner or later ones ego is always subdued.

Watching the tournament, the semifinals and the final, I can say that the best team won. Russia is back at the pinnacle of world hockey once again. The final was a great game, really a wonderful finish for the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Canadas Prime Minster, Stephen Harper was of course on hand in Quebec, anxiously watching the events unfold. Yet there were Russian flags and Ru-ssi-a chants echoing through the stadium as well. There was no animosity or fighting among the spectators, just a closely fought match with a rollercoaster of goals and lead changes.

Hockey, it is said, is almost a religion for some people in Canada. This is a hockey mad-country, said Alexander Ovechkin, one of the most talented players in the game today; an intimidating force on ice. His 65 goals in the NHL were the first time a player scored more than 60 goals since 1995-1996.

However, the one who tamed the hockey-mad Canadians was Ilya Kovalchuk. God was on our side a little more than them, claimed Kovalchuk.

Scoring his first goal of the tournament to send the game into overtime and then the overtime winner, Kovalchuk may be the keenest interpreter of the divine inspiration of the current epoch for loyal Russian hockey fans.

It may be fitting for the Canadians to be humbled in front of their home crowd. But not only was this a symbolic event for world hockey, it also sets off events marking the 400th birthday of the city of Quebec, which hosted the final. What better way than at the hockey rink for Canada to be a generous host?

They say pride comes before the fall. Lets hope this is springtime for Russian sports that will lead to a blossoming of talent in the Beijing Summer Olympic Games and then onwards to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

We all know that the Olympics are the measuring stick... If youre talking about supremacy in hockey, you talk about the Olympics, noted Canadian Coach Ken Hitchcock. The U.S.S.R won an Olympic gold medal in hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games in Canada. Lets see what happens in Vancouver 2010 and then Sochi 2014! Bring it on!

Gregory Sandstrom is a PhD student in Sociology at St. Petersburg State University, sports fan of all sorts and Olympic Games guest correspondent.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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